Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage
Title: Rites of Passage
Author: Joy N. Hensley
Published: September 9, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Gifted by a friend

 

 

Description

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

My Thoughts

Even with all the hype, Rites of Passage more than lived up to my expectations. I was having a hard time writing a coherent review so I thought I would give you three reasons why you should check this book out.

 

Forbidden Romance

As the first batch of female recruits begin their year at the Denmark Military Academy, a rule is put in place that not only can they not date anyone higher up than them, they are not allowed to date fellow recruits either. Sure, stick a bunch of teenagers in close quarters and tell them to stay away from each other. SOLID PLAN.

Tough Heroine

Let me just tell you, Sam McKenna is someone you don’t want to mess with. Don’t mess with her friends either. She is by far the toughest person at DMA. Not only is she physically capable, but she has strong mental game. Beyond that, she’s simply a good person without being a goody-goody. She makes you want to root for her, and I did.

Friendship

I loved the way Rites of Passage explored both her female and male friendships. Even though she has a lot of enemies, she has a few allies as well. These friendships were far from uncomplicated though. As much as her friends want to protect her, their loyalties are constantly being tested. In such a high pressure environment where they’re being driven to the point of exhaustion, it becomes quite easy for her fellow recruits to be manipulated.

Bonus Content

Alanna

If you’ve read Rites of Passage and you’re looking for something else to read, you should definitely check out the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. It may be fantasy, but it has a lot of themes in common with Rites of Passage. The series is about a girl named Alanna who wants to be a knight. However, in Tortall, only men can be knights so she must disguise herself as a boy to become a page.

 
 

Have any of you read Rites of Passage? What did you think?

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When Books and Life Collide

The last two books I read, though arguably different genres, ended up having some similar underlying themes and so I have some thoughts. Both books I read dealt with ideas of fate and destiny and parallel worlds. In A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (review here), there is an invention called the Firebird, which allows for travel between different dimensions. In that book, there’s a discussion that even between those vastly different worlds, there are patterns. There’s a trend of people gravitating towards each other despite having made different choices. My most recent read was Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young, and this book is all about the idea of fate. The main character has an important decision to make, revolving around the failing health of her grandmother, and that choice divides the rest of the book in two as we follow the result of both possible outcomes. The series of events that follows results in the exploration of the idea that even if we make different choices in life, we can still end up in essentially the same place.

Does fate exist? This is something we’ve all thought about. It’s been discussed in TV, in movies (how many times have I seen Serendipity?) and no one really knows the answer. I don’t even know what I believe myself. I think the reason I want to believe in fate is that it brings with it a certain level of comfort. It’s reassuring to think that there’s a master plan for your life and that even if you’re responsible for your every day decisions, there isn’t much you can do to ultimately derail this.

I think there’s very much a reason I want to believe and it’s all a little personal so bear with me here. I’m 25, but I’m basically the equivalent of a college freshman. I walked the same path the rest of my friends did. I graduated from high school, I attended CEGEP (a 2 year college that is essentially grade 12 plus freshman year of university here in Quebec) and then I went to university. I never stopped to think about what I was doing. I chose a program I thought would be fine, and when I stopped doing well in school, which being smart was always my “thing”, I crashed hard. I developed some very bad study habits over my life and never did anything to fix them, so when I was studying something I didn’t like, things got worse. I kept thinking I was the problem, that I should be able to do this anyway. I didn’t realize what a toll it would take on me. I couldn’t seem to force myself to do the work, and felt anxious about it all constantly. It got to the point where I was just ignoring everything and thinking it would fix itself. I kept trying for YEARS. Finally, I decided I was done. I left school and decided I needed a break, at least for my sanity. In some ways it was a reprieve, in others not so much. My brother was on my case all the time, thinking that that constant pressure was the best thing for me. I think my mom didn’t know what to do with me. She later told me she didn’t think I would even go back to school, despite my having assured her time and time again.

Now to make a long story short (too late) I worked for a year and a half, and finally went back to school this past September to study business. I’m still not 100% sure it’s what I want to do, but I know better this time. I know to listen to myself and to realize that I’m not always the problem. Yes, I can work hard, but if something is not right, I need to change it. And I’m working hard to procrastinate less, because I really felt like I was on the edge of having a much more serious problem with anxiety back then. It’s not a perfect plan, and I’ll probably be close to 30 by the time I finally have my bachelor’s degree, but I finally feel right about what I’m doing, even if starting over is scary as hell.

So what does this have to do with fate? Well I often wonder, what did I do to my life when I made these decisions? Will I end up in the same place eventually, even with a 5 year detour? I really hope so. I hope that I would have found happiness then, and that I’ll find it now. If that’s the case, then I don’t mind that all I’ve done is stretch out my timeline. It’s scary to think that I’ve severely and permanently altered what I could have had, if only I’d learned to trust myself a bit earlier. On the other hand, I may not have been better off if I’d never learned these lessons. I still have to hold back the jealousy sometimes when I see my friends pursuing their master’s degrees and now PhDs, but I need to remind myself that not everyone has the same journey. It’s most definitely a process, but I’m getting there.

If you’ve made it to the end, thank you for reading. I’d really love to hear from you guys if you have anything to say. Maybe you have thoughts on the existence of destiny, or maybe you have your own story to share. Either way, I want to hear it!

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Author: Claudia Gray
Published: November 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: gift from the lovely Tiff
Links: Claudia’s Twitter                                                                                                      Goodreads

 

Goodreads Description:

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined. 

My Thoughts

First, can we talk about this cover? I think it might be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I’ll admit, I didn’t look too closely at it before starting the book. If I had, I would have realized how much it tells you. The cover shows you two of the settings, London and St. Petersburg, and ties them together with a watercolour theme. This fits perfectly since our main character, Marguerite, is an artist. Her art shapes her views, and we see each new place through her eyes. Her art is also a reflection of herself, because though she remains genetically identical in each new world, she is shaped by the changes around her, which manifest through her art.

There is such infinite beauty in the concept of this book. The Firebird can take you to an endless number of dimensions, so long as your genetic self exists within that world. This leaves room for an incredible amount of creativity. Just think, if one of the greatest scientists of our time had never existed, would we be so technologically advanced? Or perhaps there was a scientific genius who was never born in our world, but existed in another. This planet would change drastically. It’s genius. It’s clear that Claudia Gray has done research for her book, but at the same time she has a certain creative license to make each world her own, because technically they never existed, so how can you be factually incorrect? Basically this book is a historical, futuristic sci-fi, contemporary novel. Didn’t you know that’s a thing?

In case it isn’t already obvious, I really enjoyed this book. I loved that it managed to have every element from family, to adventure and romance, and not feel too overwhelming. A lot of the story centers on Marguerite and her multidimensional pursuit, so what I’m looking forward to in the next book is a focus on the dynamics within the family, and an exploration of Marguerite’s relationship with her sister, Josie. As for the romance, things are complicated. Marguerite figures out her feelings over the course of the book in a very natural way, and it’s not nearly as love-triangly as you expect, which works in its favour. I would have liked the “romantic” moments to have been a bit more drawn out, personally.

There is a part of me that wishes A Thousand Pieces of You was a standalone, and not the first in a series. I feel that with some edits and another 50-100 pages, it probably could have been kept at one book. I think the part of me that wishes this is the part that doesn’t want to wait endlessly for more sequels so really it’s a selfish thing. I can’t actually complain if more books means more dimensions explored because I love the worlds that Claudia Gray has already created.

Spoiler Territory! Read at your own risk!

Even from the jacket description, you know there’s more to the story with Paul and Marguerite. What I thought was interesting was the idea that even if you’re physically the same person in another world, how much of the other you is in there. If Marguerite has fallen in love with one version, has she fallen in love with all of them? I think the answer is maybe 50% yes. I believe that we’re equally made up of who we are at birth and who we become through life. I got a little frustrated with Marguerite’s indecision when it came to Paul from her world, versus other dimension Paul that she came to love. I think she was so quick to love Paul 2.0 because she recognized her Paul in him from the beginning. I just wanted to shake her when she couldn’t realize this.

Quotable Moment

A Thousand Pieces of You-Quote

Have you read A Thousand Pieces of You or any other Claudia Gray book? This was my first!

What genre would you consider this book to be? 

Leave me your thoughts below!

 

 

2014 End of Year Book Survey-Part 2

Thanks again to Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner for creating this survey. Because I was too lazy to fill mine out in one go, here is part 2! If you missed part 1, you can find it here.

Best in Books

21. Best book you read in 2014 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else?

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier. A friend from work read it years ago and was reminded of it when our store began carrying the newly released version. She really wanted to share her experience of reading it with me, and I’m always up for reading something that’s a bit more diverse than my usual reads. I honestly didn’t expect to like it that much. The friendships and the romance, mixed with family drama, were so well done.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Is it bad to say Warner from the Shatter Me series? I’m normally one for the good guys but I loved him. Also Matt Finch from Open Road Summer because I really do like nice guys.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

This isn’t even a contest. 100% Open Road Summer. Not since Something Like Normal by Trish Doller have I seen such a well-crafted debut. I anticipate great things from Emery Lord.

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. It reminded me of why I love fantasy so much. She had the opportunity to build up two worlds in her book, one realistic within the city of Prague and one fantastical, filled with magic and creatures. She managed to do both so well.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read?

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. This book is written from many different perspectives, including those of a squirrel and bench, as we see two people fall in love. Those chapters were my favourite to read.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?

This is a hard one for me. I actually cry so easily but I’m having a hard time answering this one. I think I did a bit at the end of Allegiant, but that’s all I can come up with! Damn my terrible memory. Nothing I read this past year was as devastating as Morgan Matson’s Second Chance Summer, but I’m sure I still cried a fair bit.

27. Hidden gem of the year?

I think I’d have to go with A Little Something Different. I haven’t heard nearly as much about it as I expected to. I had such a great reading experience with it but it seems like not everyone has felt that way.

28. Book that crushed your soul?

Has to be Fangirl. I just felt for Cath so much in this book. She was awkward and nerdy and brilliant all at once. I felt like I was her in that book so everything that happened to her felt like it was happening to me.

29. Most unique book you read in 2014?

My True Love Gave to Me, an anthology edited by Stephanie Perkins. I’m taking this very literally, in that it’s the only anthology I read this year. For me, this really is a change because I’m all about the journey, and with short stories you have to fit so much into such a mall amount of pages. There were some definite hits and misses within all of the stories.

30. Book that made you the most mad?

The Treatment by Suzanne Young. I really enjoyed The Program but I felt like The Treatment just undid so much. The characters took weird turns that I didn’t think fit. There was a lot of character assassination, and it was so frustrating.

Your Blogging-Bookish Life

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2014?

I’m only starting to discover new blogs as I’ve started my own, but I continue to love posts by Magan and Estelle at Rather Be Reading and our survey host, Jamie.

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2014?

Sooooo I’ve yet to technically write a review yet. I mean I did a half review of the Veronica Mars book and a lot of book recommendations, but no solid review yet.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I really enjoyed writing this post on audiobooks, because I got to share my awkward personality with you guys in gif form.

4. Best event that you participated in?

As part of my job, I got to attend a preview event from Harper Collins which highlighted their upcoming releases. It was my first time attending anything like that, and it was a lot of fun.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

Definitely starting my blog. After going back and forth for months/years, I finally did it!

6. Most popular post this year on your blog?

My very first post has both the most views and the most comments. I was really touched with all the support I received from the blogging community.

7. Post you wished got a little more love?

Honestly, most of them, but I’m just starting out so I’m trying to keep my expectations in check. It can be hard, because as soon as you post something new, you’re so excited to share it with everyone and get a discussion going, but the reality is that you may not even get a single comment.

8. Best bookish discovery?

Gillian from Writer of Wrongs is crazy talented. I’m a little jealous but mostly in awe. My best discovery was that now you can actually buy some of her bookish art here in various forms.

9. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I didn’t have any this past year, but I’m hoping to read 75 books next year and take part in a few reading challenges.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be your number one priority in 2015?

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I’m almost scared to read it at this point due to the infinite praise but I must get to it!

2. Book (non-debut) you are most anticipating for 2015?

I Was Here by Gayle Forman, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, All the Rage by Courtney Summers and Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales. So many!

3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I’ve been hearing AMAZING things about this one. I hope it lives up to the hype.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2015?

Please Remain Calm, which is a novella sequel to This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, which is a brilliant book.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2015?

I want to continue making my blog something I’m proud of. I hope that I’ll be able to keep it up and feel like I’m making a contribution to the reading community.

6. A 2015 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone?

The only 2015 release I’ve read was All Fall Down by Ally Carter, but I can’t say I loved it unfortunately.

AND DONE! Thank you if you’ve made it this far, and if you skipped to the end, well I still love you. Just slightly less.

Which 2015 book are you excited for? Any reading goals for the new year?